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Thread: Preferred wood for a plane till

  1. #1
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    Preferred wood for a plane till

    I have come to the conclusion that a plane till, like a workbench, is one of those "lifetime" projects. By that I mean it is one of those projects you make at least three times, and the last one becomes some mix of a crafty Mt. Everest, and heirloom piece for the next generation(s). Anyway, I am now at the third tier and am stuck in the particular rabbit hole of selecting the wood.

    The box itself will be walnut, with some nice burl for the door panels. Like a typical till, the planes will sit vertically on a ramp. I was thinking about making that ramp out of plywood, but then wondered if my as-of-yet unconceived grandchildren would think less of me for it. So I thought about shop-sawn wood veneer. Then, I got to think about what wood to use for the veneer. I like the contrast of ash or oak with walnut. And this got me further down the rabbit hole.

    So my questions are:

    1. Would a high tannin wood like ash or oak stain the plane soles? They are going to sit there for decades.
    2. Should the ramp be finished? My thought is that finished wood could seal in moisture between the plane body and the till. That could be good or bad.
    3. If I were to finish the ramp, how about wax? That way there would be a water barrier (or not) and the plane soles would get an automatic waxing.

    My current design/function choice is unfinished maple. Has anyone else gone down this particular hole?

  2. #2
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    You bring up good points about tannin in wood. My first thought was the tannin in oak would be bad for the metal. It surprises me that ash also contains tannin.

    Maybe it is time to do some research on wood to metal reactivity.

    Update: A quick consult with Dr. Google returns information claiming ash is either very low in tannin or has none.

    jtk
    Last edited by Jim Koepke; 02-25-2020 at 11:24 PM.
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
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    Wow. I suppose I should think about whether the plywood I used for the "floor" of my till and the cherry of the sides –– both unfinished –– will somehow give moisture to the plane soles and sides. I hope not, but how to tell?

    plane rack closeup.jpg
    Last edited by Bob Jones 5443; 02-26-2020 at 1:20 AM.

  4. #4
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    Let me start by saying "thanks for making me paranoid". I have never given it any thought (until now), and I know nothing about it. That said:

    http://resource.npl.co.uk/docs/scien...ls_by_wood.pdf

    https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf1980/baker80a.pdf

    That said, have you ever worried about a nail or screw corroding when you screw it into the wood? Have you ever seen it?

    My gut reaction is that it is likely not a big problem, but, time to see what others say.

  5. #5
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    That said, have you ever worried about a nail or screw corroding when you screw it into the wood? Have you ever seen it?
    If you ever try to salvage wood from pallets you will see what oak can do to iron nails.

    My projects for out door use are made with brass screws. They hold up better than coated or galvanized steel. Stainless steel screws are good, but they can cost more than brass.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
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    I live in a very humid environment and so the dehumidifier runs 24/7/365. I believe I used a piece of baltic birch for the floor of the till. Each section is covered loosely with Roberts 70-025 Qep 70-029 Unison Underlayment. The image loaded horizontally. The til is vertical.
    IMG_0082.jpg

  7. #7
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    Jim,

    I think they use pretty wet lumber when building pallets. That said, I have taken apart more than a few pallets over the years, and have seen the pallet wood shrunk around nails very badly. You would pull the nail in two before you could pull it out. I have seen more than a few nails that the pallet lumber has shrunk and trapped the nail tightly in it's grip.

    I think a possible combination of a pallet made with relatively undried wet lumber, and storage of pallets out in the rain where they can get, and stay, wet for a spell may have contributed to the rusting of pallet nails I have seen many times.

    Just my 2 bits.

    Stew
    Last edited by Stew Denton; 02-27-2020 at 10:54 PM.

  8. #8
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    My til isn't very fancy, just a place to stash a few planes....frame is pine, dovetailed at the corners, then a sheet of Luann Plywood over the frame....then some moldings to keep the planes in place.

    One item..if the shop is in a basement, or there are overhead water pipes....do not park the til under those pipes VOE....as they will drip in the summer....

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stew Denton View Post
    Jim,

    I think they use pretty wet lumber when building pallets. That said, I have taken apart more than a few pallets over the years, and have seen the pallet wood shrunk around nails very badly. You would pull the nail in two before you could pull it out. I have seen more than a few nails that the pallet lumber has shrunk and trapped the nail tightly in it's grip.

    I think a possible combination of a pallet made with relatively undried wet lumber, and storage of pallets out in the rain where they can get, and stay, wet for a spell may have contributed to the rusting of pallet nails I have seen many times.

    Just my 2 bits.

    Stew
    Pallets are usually made from local woods. Mostly on the west coast pallets are made of various types of fir. Pallets bringing goods from the east are often made of oak or maple. Of course they are not made of of high quality lumber good enough for furniture. Often there are loose knots or other defects.

    Oak pallets often display black rings around the nails from reaction to the tannins. The fir pallets even after being out in the weather do not cling to a nail anywhere near the tenacity of an oak pallet.

    Over my years many a pallet has been dismantled for one reason or another.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  10. #10
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    Plus...a lot of pallet makers use a spiral kind of nail.....a ROYAL PITA to remove...DAMHIKT.....involves a GOOD pair of visgrips along with a crowbar or hammer's claw.
    Local Amish do a LOT of pallet making....they saw the logs, and assemble a pallet....by the flatbed semi loads.
    Shelby County saw mill,Amish.JPG
    The sawmill...then they haul the lumber a bit down the road, to the next farm..
    Shelby County Pallet Factory, Amish.JPG
    Where parts are cut to size, and the pallets are assembled, and hand stacked on the trailers....then the customer stops by, and hauls out the load, usually leaving another empty trailer behind..

  11. #11
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    Plus...a lot of pallet makers use a spiral kind of nail.....a ROYAL PITA to remove...DAMHIKT.....involves a GOOD pair of visgrips along with a crowbar or hammer's claw.
    Or do it with a great tool made for the job:

    Nail Puller.png

    The top part of the handle works like a slide hammer adding force to the effort.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
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    Jim,

    We used to call those "cyclops" nail pullers. One of the original versions had "cyclops" for the trade name I believe. You are right, those are vicious nail pullers. I have had one for about 49 years, and first used one a few years before that. The first one I used had "cyclops" cast into the handle I am pretty sure.

    A real he man nail puller.

    Regards,

    Stew

  13. #13
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  14. #14
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    Is the consensus ash for wood to metal contact? I am hoping to build a saw till in the next few months...

  15. #15
    So, back to planes and wood. . . .

    Oak, walnut, and cherry are all high tannin woods which will react with iron. That said, it seems you need moisture to make the reaction happen. One summer, I left a piece of white oak on my cast iron table saw top for basically the entire summer, probably three or four months. There was no reaction between the iron and wood. The iron was not pitted or discolored, and the oak did not turn black. I run an AC in the shop in the summer. It doesn't get cool enough to work comfortably when it is hot out, but it does keep the humidity down to about 70%

    My guess is that you will have no problems with oak or any other wood as long as you don't get condensation on the planes where the wood contacts it. And if you do get condensation, you are going to have problems no matter what surface they are on.

    If you are overly concerned, you can use a low tannin wood like maple, birch, or white pine. Alternatively or additionally, you can put a finish on the wood. Polyurathane, shellac, or maybe water base would work, and shouldn't react with the wood once completely dry. Oil will stink forever in a closed environment (polyurethane will also stink, but only for years).

    There is no disgrace in using plywood. Baltic birch works good for things like that. Don't get overly concerned about your grand children-to-be. There is no guarantee they are going to be woodworkers, and if they are, they aren't going to think less of you because you used plywood. Only certain types of hand tool enthusiasts and fine furniture types care about things like that (bear in mind that you are currently in one of the few places where they gather in force ).
    Last edited by Andrew Seemann; 03-04-2020 at 12:45 AM.

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